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Thursday 18 October 2012

Ramblings About My Brain, Creativity and Inner-Critics

How's it going?

I'm tired. It's the good kind of tired, where you feel like you deserve sleep come the end of the day. And recently, I've been sleeping okay. It's mostly because of music; I set myself a playlist, which helps me drift off into random thoughts; which in turn sends me to sleep.

I've been much better with the crazy-brain stuff recently. I've found ways to shut off, to relax, to play an xBox game without feeling guilty. I recommend it. Sure, I still feel the pressure to write a masterful screenplay anytime in the next nine minutes, but I've got better at saying, "hey, it doesn't actually have to be tonight."

The pressure in your own brain can be such a creativity killer. I think that when I put pressure on myself, it makes me PRODUCTIVE, but it doesn't make me CREATIVE.


I don't know how or when you're the most creative, but for me, it's when I'm relaxed. Those rare moments where I actually allow myself to notice that the sun is shining, or when I engage in a conversation to the point where I forget I need to check my Twitter account. In those rare moments, I can find the silliness and interestingness in all the things around me. Like when I saw Paranormal Activity 4 yesterday; I spent the whole time laughing to myself because I had a new film idea circling in my mind. It happens when I let myself off the hook.

But the obsessive pressure soon comes back, and it needs to; because it helps me get projects finished. A lot of people have ideas -- plenty of them -- but the days turn into months and into years and into coffins because they just don't have the energy or willpower to do anything. And sure, there are often legitimate excuses; but even so; you can always do your creative work after the lights are out, or in your lunch break, or when the prison guard is napping. I think in many ways, I am lucky and privileged to have an inner-nutcase who keeps me productive, because many people don't have it. They sleep better, but they complete less projects.

What is creativity? Who knows, there are so many definitions. For me personally,  it's a feeling, a moment; when my sensibilities are shaken or inspired by something I've seen or experienced, or something I am feeling inside of me. When my curiosity is sparked --- and what that leads to, is a new insight, a new way of looking at something. And then the hope is that my talent and skill; which gets sharper each time it's used; is able to pick up on the insight and turn it into something artistic that resonates with the reader/audience.

My inner-critic just said to me, sarcastically, "great job trying to explain creativity in one paragraph on a film blog!"

What is the point of the inner-critic? He's a fascinating fellow, don't you think? I wrote a post a few days ago about 10 People To Avoid In Creative Industries. But honestly; all those people that you'll meet externally, also exist inside of yourself. Your inner-critic can be ruthless! Egotism is an inner-critic under threat, and The Drama Queen is an inner-critic needing attention. At its worst; the inner-critic makes you a perfectionist who is never happy---- at its best, you can teach your critic to be more nurturing, to speak in more useful and less harsh tones. It's not easy to be kind to yourself, but it'll make you a better artist. 

An article was published a few days ago about how Creativity Is A Mental Illness. I call bullshit. A mental illness is a mental illness, creativity is creativity. And sure, creatives have, for centuries, driven themselves crazy because of the ideas and disturbances in their heads--- but so have people who photocopy paper for a living. To think of the artist's calling as special or anymore important than anyone elses is, to me, a thought of pure egotism. And I argue with other artists about this all the time. Usually actors; I'm not sure why, but they often think they're doing Gods work. I think they're just acting. 

And I'm just writing. And you're just reading. Nothing I do or an actor does is more important than the small but great things anybody is capable of doing on any given day. To quote Woody Allen, "Whatever works."

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